Knowledge Across Borders
New issue of IESE Insight explores corporate alliances and knowledge exchange
The resources you need may lie outside your firm. Before stepping out, know what it takes to make alliances work. | Illustration: Miguel Montaner
To innovate today, companies are increasingly reaching out beyond the borders of their own business sector or industry in search of valuable new knowledge. But doing so presents challenges – which is why the latest IESE Insight is designed to make sure your collaborations are fruitful.
Prof. Africa Ariño, holder of the Joaquim Molins Figueras Chair of Strategic Alliances, guest edits the cover dossier. Writing with Prof. Rafael Andreu, she uses the case of a healthcare alliance to help readers home in on the micro-level capabilities, knowledge pieces, routines and coordination schemes that they can adjust in order to create value at the macro level of an inter-organizational collaboration.
Exploratory innovation is, by nature, uncertain, so you often want a more flexible contract to keep your options open. But the less that things are spelled out, the more likely conflicts will arise. This is when steering committees can step into the breach. Prof. Jeffrey J. Reuer (University of Colorado) and Prof. Shivaram V. Devarakonda (Tilburg University, Netherlands) examine the vital role that joint committees can play in the absence of formal boards of directors.
Another risk of loose collaborations is that vital knowledge might leak out. Again, the more knowledge you exchange, the greater the chances of innovation – but you don’t want to just give your intellectual property away and get outperformed by your partner. For this reason, IESE’s Prof. Solon Moreira recommends the inclusion of a "grant-back clause," which stipulates how licensed knowledge can get used.
Elsewhere in the magazine, professors Fabrizio Ferraro, José Miguel Argüelles and Massimo Maoret break down the role of the General Manager, laying out a road map for successful strategy execution and showing the various trade-offs along the way. Their article includes reflections from the well-known GM Federico Minoli, who believes the key to navigating the chaos of strategic execution is to stay focused on your people: "You help someone else grow, you grow yourself."
SAP CEO Bill McDermott echoes this sentiment in his interview: "Being in service to other people is the greatest form of leadership." He talks about the experience of losing an eye: "Vision is not only what you see; vision is what you feel and how you make other people feel." More than intellectual curiosity, he says you need "intellectual adventure," so get up, get out and "go for a ride."
Each magazine features a real-life business case in which executives are invited to share what they would do in that situation. The current magazine discusses a case on YouTube by Prof. Marta Elvira and the next Case Forum is already open, where readers can post comments on Amazon. Both cases can be purchased through IESE Publishing.
Members of the Alumni Association and subscribers to IESE Insight – a quarterly research-based magazine, published in separate English and Spanish editions – can read all these articles using their membership credentials.
Read the latest IESE Insight magazine here.